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DINKs reject the archetypical formula for a family (i.e. wife, husband, and 2.5 kids), but does this also mean they spurn traditional gender roles? Even the most progressive parents sometimes find themselves falling into the traditional breadwinner-father, homemaker-mother roles when confronted with the day-to-day pressures of parenthood. But conventional wisdom may suggest that DINKs, free as they are of such pressures, could go their own way. We here at DINKlife got a little bit curious about this question and decided to explore the matter a bit further.
Of course, no discussion of gender roles can proceed without some exposition as to how women’s rights tie into the matter. Gender roles and women’s equality are inextricably linked. Women’s education, especially, has done much in the way of freeing women (and men) from traditional roles and duties historically mandated, rather than individually chosen.
Even the concept of marriage for romantic love is relatively new. Throughout the majority of human history, women married mostly as a means of economic support or as a simple matter of social obligation. Without education or much formal job training, women who didn’t want to enter the convent (or the brothel) had few other means of supporting themselves.
As the 20th century wore on and women made strides toward social, political, and economic parity with men, marriage, too, evolved. Women are no longer obligated to marry. Today’s woman can take her time, go to school, figure out her life, and then settle down - if she wants to, with somebody she really loves and wants. And though a few prominent pearl-clutchers decry declining marriage rates, most women and men alike would probably think it a good thing that we now marry (or shack up) primarily for love, companionship, and compatibility, rather than economic reasons.
You could even say, “Feminism is working.” Women are now graduating college in greater numbers than men, and they are continuing to reduce the pay gap. A University study showed the nationwide gender wage gap closed by 22 percent from 1979 to 2009. A recent Time magazine cover heralded this change as “good for everyone.” But even today, when gender equality has never been greater, many women often hobble their earning power when they take time off from the work force to have and raise children (and admittedly, some consider this a fair trade). Some studies even show many college-educated women out-earn their male counterparts before they settle down and have children.
For the purposes of this article, a short survey was distributed among the DINKlife community and various other online DINK and childfree communities. The survey questioned respondents about distribution of chores, which partner makes more money, respective levels of education, and who initiates sex, takes care of social planning, handles finances, and initiates discussions about the couple’s future.
Approximately 30 couples responded to the survey – all of them male-female couples and mainly heterosexual (one couple said they were both bisexual). The survey sample is too small for responses to be considered statistically representative of the population, however it gives us a nice qualitative peek into the perspective of the DINK community at large.
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